for May, 2011

May 28, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The L Magazine Asks What We’re Drinking Memorial Day Weekend

Mr. Keith Wagstaff at the L Magazine asked moi, along with several other notable booze-experts what they might be drinking this fine and weathered Memorial Day Weekend.

The article is here and I have a few comments:

According to Lauren Shockey, El Cobre has the Dark and Stormy cocktail on Tap… now that gives me ideas!

“What else can we put on tap?!”
“Why, anything, little Jonny.”
“Anything in the world?”
“Yes, anything and everything. Even chocolate milk.”
“Boy, do I love chocolate milk!”
“I know you do, little Jonny, I know. But where do we go from here?
“I don’t know Uncle Sam. I don’t know.”

As for the rest of the drinks being drunk, it seems some of the tastemakers are drinking their own brews and the like. That kind of thing makes me think of Frank Sinatra who said he never, ever listens to his own music. There’s booze for thought.

May 27, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

{Second Annual} #Chardonnay Day!

Which of these things just doesn't belong?

O Glorious #Chardonnay Day
Amber Waves of Grapes
You are the reason I hide in Oak
Trees at night. When the moon is out
And the Ram’s Horn emerges from the
Earth and butts the 70-year old vines
hanging there, forming a canopy covering
all the ants, the aardvarks, the ground hogs
and from up here, in this Walnut Tree
I am cracking open the fruits of
Nature’s labor, and I am sipping away
the acid trip of a lifetime, lifecrime, lifenickelanddime.

Please for the sake of your self, check out and see what madness was brewing on Chardonnay Day.

Many thanks to Jordan Winery and Trefethen for sending us some Chardonnay to share with the good people who joined us at City Winery, from where we did but tweet, tumble and facebook the day long. Cheers, Jonny Cigar

BONUS! I’m quoted in the L Magazine re: what I’ll be drinking this Memorial Day Weekend!

May 24, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Whirlwind WineWeek: Blending to Trefethen Family Vineyards

The Noble Rot and Trefethen Family Vineyards | Williamsburg, Brooklyn | Friday, May 20  Photo by Laura Huben

It was an exhausting and rewarding week for The Noble Rot: we hosted three Blending Events at BK Winery and then on Friday, May 20th, Loren Trefethen of Trefethen Family Vineyards joined us as we tasted through six of his family’s incredible wines.

Trefethen Family Vineyards have been producing outstanding wines since the early days of Napa’s revolution. When the valley was planted as far as the eye could see with Walnut trees, the Trefethens were planting Riesling and Cabernet and Chardonnay. In 1979 at the World Olympics of Wine (France’s best effort to reinstate their status as supreme ruler of all things wine after the infamous 1976 Paris Tasting) the Trefethen’s Chardonnay took first place. In fact, Loren tells an amazing story about the reaction by the French Wine Hierarchy. Listen here: Trefethen Chardonnay (4:43)

The Chardonnay that sailed a thousand Chardonnays! Photo by Laura Huben

Very exciting for the Noble Rotters present was the fact that not a soul on the east coast prior to last night’s tasting had ever sampled the 2007 Harmony Chardonnay or newly released Dragon’s Tooth—a blend of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. For an established Napa-staple winery, this is a a unique and wildly theatrical bottling.

Behold: Trefethen Dragon’s Tooth! || Photo by Brian Quinn

I beg of you, good reader, to add Trefethen to your list of wines to drink if you have not and if you are a fan already, lookout for Harmony and Dragon’s Tooth because they are rock stars and will transport you back in time: after one sip, fellas will recall catching that touchdown pass—the one that led to a win at the All-State Football Championship match. And for the gals: it shall remind you of the night you were voted prom queen (and I know you all were voted prom queen). As for the Oakville Chardonnay, an absolute delight for me (as I’m fast becoming a Chardonnay fan), and this pony boasts no malolactic fermentation, but a touch of oak leading to an elegant finish that lingers and evolves on the palate.


Many, many thanks to Loren and the rest of the Trefethen Family for sharing their wine with us at The Noble Rot.

Loren Trefethen talks about his family’s Chardonnay | photo by Laura Huben

Listen to other parts of the interview with Loren here:

Trefethen History-Riesling (5:12)

Trefethen Climate and Soil (3:20)

Trefethen Harmony Chardonnay (4:05)

Trefethen Reds, Mmmmm (5:54)

Far right: MaxZT at the Dulcimer – Thanks to Max!

Earlier in the week we hosted back-to-back blending events at the Brooklyn Winery, leading an array of individuals into the realm of “winemaker for a day.” For these blending sessions we work with the five Noble Varietals crafting “Meritage” blends from the Parlor Room at the winery. Everyone is supplied with beakers and graduated cylinders just like back in science class. The events offer guests an opportunity to really explore their palate in social, relaxed, team-building environment (just like the old days of little league).

Jonny Cigar inspects the blenders… “hard at work.”

And as a treat, we witnessed BK Winery Winemaker Conor McCormack bottling his first vintage of Brooklyn Pinot Noir! Check out the video below!


May 18, 2011 1 comment Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Celebrating 200 Years of Perrier-Jouët at The Bouley Test Kitchen

A glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut for you? Photo by Katie Sokoler. The Noble Rot and Perrier-Jouët at The Bouley Test Kitchen.

If anyone had asked me how I would like to spend my evening on Wednesday, May 4th, I would have replied, “After being fitted for an entire summer wardrobe of custom-tailored clothes, it would be lovely if my private helicopter brought me to JFK and I boarded a short flight to Montreal, cocktails and dinner on Rue St. Denise, so on and so forth.” Well, it came to pass that while several of those wishes fell upon deaf ears, something even better (truly) happened: I found myself at The Bouley Test Kitchen on West Broadway in Manhattan, hosting Hervé Deschamps, the Cellarmaster of the Perrier-Jouët Champagne house.

Jonny and Hervé – The Noble Rot Talks (Photo by Katie Sokoler)

Hervé is a delightful man who is full of cheer, and why wouldn’t he be? His job is to make sure Perrier-Jouët produces the finest quality Champagne they are capable of producing. And he’s doing a fantastic job. We spoke with Hervé, dined on Canapés from the Bouley Test Kitchen, and we tasted through PJs:

  • Grand Brut NV (retails around $45)
  • Blason Rosé NV (retails around $75) (also my personal favorite — !)
  • 2002 Belle Epoque (retails around $150)

We are incredibly grateful to the entire staff of The Bouley Test Kitchen – their food was inspiring and paired perfectly with the Champagne. We sampled:

  • Yellowtail with Soy Gelée, Micro-Celery in a Crispy Cone
  • Mini “Taco” with Glazed Tomato and Avocado Salad
  • Grilled Marinated Duck with Pruneaux d’Agen
  • Mini Chicken Schnitzel
  • Grilled Shrimp with soy Marinade
  • Slow Poached Shrimp with Celery Root Purée, Ginger Aromatic
  • Homemade Tofu with Black Truffle Dashi
    Smoked Salmon with Buckwheat Blinis, White Truffle Honey, Salmon Trout Roe

Good reader, if you’ll kindly allow it, the photographs shall do the rest of the talking:



May 2, 2011 4 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

L-Train Luncheon (May 2011)

You may have seen this article in The New York Times, published May 3, 2011.

Photo by Yana Paskova for The New York Times

On the first of May we hosted a “luncheon” on the L line of the New York City subway. The subway is a familiar place, providing a necessary means of transportation for many New Yorkers. Its stairwells, turnstiles, platforms, trains and unpredictable elements are all-too-familiar to its dedicated patrons. One begins to know the exact time of travel from one destination to another. One begins to intuit the conditions of a ride, anticipating smooth stretches and knowing when to brace for a jarring turn. Through a series of familiar gestures, presented in commonplace locations in unfamiliar ways, we set out to challenge a habitual experience.

We are committed and determined to push ahead, boats against the currents, providing unique and unforgettable experiences… And so we leave you to ponder what might be next…


Follow up thoughts: May 2, 2011:

On Sunday, the first of May, I had the privilege of “performing” on the L Train from 8th avenue to New Lott’s Avenue near the end of the line. In character as a front-of-house captain, self-appointed Master Sommelier and Supreme Badminton Champion, I poured water, served haute cuisine, offered cracked pepper and escorted walk-ins through the “dining room.” Let’s call it the true manifestation of a “pop-up dinner” since the blogs and papers have been bloggin’ and papering about pop-up dinners. Let’s call it “art,” for the sake of art. Or performance for the sake of performance. Or let’s say it was a modern-day attempt at understanding Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.”

This past December (2010) I was in L.A. with Michael Cirino and Daniel Castano of A Razor, A Shiny Knife to host a dinner. After we successfully served a multi-course meal paired with moonshine-inspired cocktails, we took to our rental car to drive around Hollywood Hills and other various hills, getting lost amidst lavish mansions and tailgating the occasional celebrity tour bus.

The topic of discussion? What’s next? What do we do now? If memory serves me correctly, no one was driving, and as we were sight-seeing, the spark of a wild idea popped in my head: “We should host a dinner on the subway,” I said in time for one of us to take control of the car. “How did we all get in the backseat?” asked Castano. However it happened, this past Sunday saw such a renegade idea come to life and unravel without a hitch.

I’m thankful to A Razor, A Shiny Knife for helping to execute the concept — and to all involved in the affair.